Mystery Science Theater 3000: The Movie
1996, PG-13, 85 min. Directed by Jim Mallon. Starring Jim Mallon, Trace Beaulieu, Michael J. Nelson, Kevin Murphy, John Brady.
REVIEWED By Alison Macor, Fri., April 19, 1996
In a move that, temporarily, may appease the thousands of ticked-off fans angry at Comedy Central for canceling the cable program Mystery Science Theater 3000 (MST3K to its devotees), the small show with the big following has hit the silver screen. The Satellite of Love -- the spaceship commandeered by MST3K regulars Mike Nelson (as himself), Crow T. Robot (Beaulieu), Tom Servo (Murphy), and Gypsy (Mallon) -- remains adrift in space as the crazed Dr. Forrester (also Beaulieu) continues to torment Mike and his robot sidekicks by forcing them to watch cheesy movies -- in this case, the thoroughly plotless 1954 gem This Island Earth. And for those moviegoers unfamiliar with the television program, here's the basic premise: Due to his inherently evil nature and possible childhood trauma, Dr. Forrester sends his captive audience lower-than-low-budget films to drain the lifeblood from their souls. Appearing at the bottom of the television screen in silhouetted theatre seats, Mike, Tom Servo, and Crow verbally terrorize the film they're watching, occasionally spoofing the film du jour in skits performed as a means of retaining their sanity amidst the horror of low-budget hell. So how does MST3K play in Hollywood, you ask? Quite well, thank you. This Island Earth actually is a step up for Mike and the 'bots; its special effects were widely praised by 1950s critics. However, loyal viewers should not be alarmed. Mike, Tom Servo, and Crow have plenty to work with given the lackluster dialogue and completely fake voice of lead character Dr. Cal Meacham. When a postman delivers mail to the doctor in This Island Earth, Mike comments, “Oh, the script has finally arrived!” But the real scene-stealer in This Island Earth is the alien Exeter, whose sloping forehead and bouffant hairdo inspire comments like, “Hey look! It's Charlie Rich!” What MST3K: The Movie offers apart from the television show is a peek inside the inner sanctum of the Satellite of Love: Tom Servo's and Crow's messy bedrooms, Mike's exercise equipment, and even space navigator Gypsy's upper deck. References to episodes past slyly make their way into the film as well. Of course the hybrid humor that devoted MST3K fans (MSTies) love and worship remains intact. In other words, there are plenty of sophomoric jokes about sexuality (of all kinds), name-calling by Crow and Tom Servo (“You dickweed!”), and nods to contemporary cultural artifacts like the Riccola cough drops commercials. So pile the kids into the station wagon, pick up Grandma, and take the neighbors to see Mystery Science Theater 3000: The Movie. It's fun for the entire family. And one more thing. Push the button, Frank.